“Re.: Detachments with Jewish inmates”

On 24 February 1945, as he had done regularly for months, the SS labour allocation officer had a list drawn up under this heading. Wherever possible, the SS continued to insist on the separation of Jews and non-Jews, also in the subcamps. They never gave up the plan to murder all Jews.

The detachments on the list were those with the highest death rates, among them nearly all of the SS construction cadres. The names of the armaments companies followed: Bochumer Verein, Junkers, Krupp, BMW, HASAG, WASAG, Dynamit Nobel, Rheinmetall, Polte and IG Farben, which forced the inmates to carry out gruelling assembly line production.

At this point in time, 4,200 concentration camp inmates – including 1,500 Jewish men and women – were working for the Polte OHG alone, an operation based in Magdeburg and Duderstadt. The work in the munitions plants was hard and detrimental to the health. Jewish women had to process toxic substances without face protection. The survivors suffered from the consequences for the rest of their lives.

(Harry Stein)

Source: Letter from the labour administration department to the labour allocation officer of the Buchenwald concentration camp, 24 February 1945 (Arolsen Archives).

Reference: Wolfgang Benz and Barbara Distel (eds.), Der Ort des Terrors: Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager, vol. 3: Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Munich, 2006